The Art of Regional Change (ARC), a joint initiative of the UC Davis Humanities Institute and the Center for Regional Change, has been awarded $20,000 by the UC Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) to host a series of public events in 2012-2013 to showcase its latest community media project, Restore/Restory. A collaboration between ARC and the Cache Creek Conservancy, the project pairs UC Davis students, scholars and artists with a diverse cross-section of Yolo County residents to tell the complex story of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve through a public history web site and site-based audio tour. The UCHRI Extramural Explorations award will allow ARC to host three Chautauqua-style assemblies to disseminate the art and research produced through Restore/Restory to off-campus and largely under-served, rural audiences around Yolo County. The successful UCHRI proposal was submitted by ARC Program Director jesikah maria ross and Associate Professor of English Mike Ziser.
In partnership with the Cache Creek Conservancy, ARC will use the public events to further the partners’ goal of sparking conversations that encourage communities to interact with their natural environments and create more sustainable and inclusive relationships between people and place. In particular, Restore/Restory documents the changing social, cultural and physical landscape of a highly contested area of Yolo County: lower Cache Creek. The Cache Creek Nature Preserve opened in 2000 to restore lower Cache Creek following restrictions on gravel mining and to bring civic peace by establishing common ground among competing interests in the watershed. The 130-acre preserve sits on land used most recently for large-scale gravel mining, but previously hosted Anglo farming and hunting, Californio ranching, and native Patwin fishing and gathering.
Since its launch in January 2011, Restore/Restory has enlisted the help of UC Davis students, faculty and artists in addition to tribal leaders, community scholars and activists in recording and transcribing 50 interviews, taking hundreds of photographs, collecting archival images, as well as assembling video chronicles, storyteller profiles, and a multi-author historical timeline. It is this raw material that is now being compiled into an audio tour and web site, due to be completed in the summer of 2012.
Ziser and ross proposed using the UCHRI award to broaden the impact of the materials collected for the Restore/Restory project with Chautauqua-style community events. Born in the nineteenth century, the Chautauqua movement brought the arts and humanities to rural audiences throughout the country by hosting assemblies of lecturers, authors, entertainers, and other specialists of the day. Reviving this tradition of rural education, ARC will mount daylong public events designed to actively engage audiences in reflecting on California and people’s relationship to the land.
Restore/Restory is funded, in part, by a Literature grant from the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts and the Quitiplás Foundation.